vendredi 23 août 2013
WHO ARE YOU?
MEDITATING BY THE MOUNTAIN SPRINGS IN THE FRENCH ALPS
I think it was VSNaipaul,one of the greatest artists of the English Language when it comes to its useful expression, who said: People stand in line to be Ordinary..
Was he resonating what Nietzsche had earlier said:
Cheerfulness of a Slave who has nothing of a consequence to be responsible for, who does not value anything of the past or the future higher than the present.
I am sitting by the mountain springs, thinking about what is happening here in Europe, in USA and in Asia.. and of course always being grateful for my association with American Indians and my two good friends in Asia: Brother Joe in Bogor and MC in KL.
When you are traveling through Europe, one sees another face of humanity, changes too rapid that no one has a good understanding of what is happening and how to deal with this new arrivals of humanity and values and perceived threats and loss of values..
Very early on in my life, I had begun to think about Individuality (Free Spirit was a popular term then, Free from What I used to wonder), while still living in Australia.
It did not take me too long to realize that oppression of Individuality was at play everywhere one turned:
How much more ridiculous than the Government of Malaysia (while claiming to represent all religions their concern is Islam), which is now on the brink of banning any one who is not a Moslem using the word Allah to denote God!!
Would they now try to ban Ole and Ojala as well?
The French assure us that they are colour and religion blind and only thing that matters are people are French, thus creating Nothingness to the Other humanity, without realizing Nothingness is where they are headed.
The best example of loss of Individuality among my colleagues: I am a Doctor, meaning without my White Coat, I am nothing.
American Indians have taught me from the beginning of my association with them: I am a friend who happens to know a little Medicine.
Hobbes 16th century pronouncement while in different context, gives us an idea of the Individual Prisons that we build for ourselves.
Individuals ruled by appetites and aversion, pursuing their own interests, and locked in perpetual mutual enmity.
My good friend MC in KL and Brother Joe would immediately recognize this individual attitude to be much against what we had discussed about, of being a Good Person.
Attachment, Aversion, Lack of Compassion, Ego.. the basis of so much unhappiness in this world.
We are so lucky that so much Knowledge and so much Wisdom is so easily available to us…at home and abroad.. among our friends and those who cross our paths.
We must make time to learn..
The greatest gift any one person can give another is TIME.
My brother Joe would include in this gift of Time, his expertise to being in a position to help others. He would add: Impossible to be happy fi you are only helping yourself..
As Dalai Lama has said: If you want to make another person happy, be Compassionate
If you want to be happy, be compassionate..
It is nice to sit here ,listening to the gargle of the springs from the mountains. I am reading through some lectures given by the great Philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurty in Amsterdam in 1955. I am happy I know about him, the time is ripe to learn and understand his words..
A society that does not pay attention to the “individuals” within that society will decay, that is what happened to the Great Moghul Dynasty, the mighty Ottoman Empire, the Persians, the Egyptians..
It may not be a coincidence that these societies gave rise to greatest nationalists, religious fanatics because there were pools of people with neglected aspirations that could be easily manipulated. (France and Britain to lesser extent are in similar quandary)
To be free, we have to allow the Other to be free, allow ourselves to be free of Religion and Authority… in the ways and words of American Indians Spiritual Belief system transcends them.
I was very naïve when the First American Indians I met asked me: Who are you?
I am a Doctor; those were the words that came out of my mouth.
I didn't ask you what you are, but who are you?
It took me many years of travel, learning about various cultures, meeting some wonderful people, before I could even muster a reasonable answer.
The process of understanding the question was more important than the answer itself.
If I am only for myself, who am I ?, the great Rabbi Hillel had said.
We do not have to decay along with the societies we live in, whether it is France or Malaysia but live in a Mythical World where the expression of our individuality is not measured by your belief or parochial or social or regional measures, but by the Universal measures, which remain the same for all of us.
THAT IS WHEN YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE..
samedi 17 août 2013
BRIDES LES BAINS
THE WEIGHT LOSS CAPITAL OF FRANCE, BUT DOES IT WORK?
The Water and the Body in the French Alps:
Charles (The Bald) OF FRANCE, Holy Roman Emperor, King of West Francia b. 13 Jun 823 Frankfurt, Germany d. 6 Oct 877 Brides-les-Bains, France The Spa here has been renowned since Roman times
The French has a concept of the Body much in the Cartesian tradition (after all Descartes was French!). When something goes wrong with the Body, they feel that it can be mechanistically corrected by reversing the “defect”, a very mechanical view of the Body.
The spring known since Roman times, situated near the town of Moutiers in the French Alps and close to the ski resort of Meribel, attracts thousands of visitors during the summer months, mainly French, for 21 day “cures” – a very strictly body oriented practice of:
Less Food, but nicely prepared
Massage therapy, Mud Therapy
The Magnificent Alps for a vista
Water from the Spring with its high Calcium, Magnesium and other anions/cations.
Plus other body oriented paraphernalia such as “yoga”, “meditation” and Zumba.
They claim that during the 21 days, one can expect to loose weight and attribute it to the “waters”
Being a participant observer in these parts, the loss of weight, which is rather miniscule in most cases, can be directly attributed to the menu, concocted by the Local Doctors, in various forms of Diet Therapy. The lack of food, which is strictly controlled, is blandly prepared and controlled in amount. You cannot have seconds or substitutes and the menu is posted and any change incurs a 10-dollar fee. There is no bread, hardly any carbohydrates and meat and fish on the menu.
I do see Cheese on the menu and a daily dessert for Lunch and Dinner, which to my disciplined stomach is a bit too much. Almost every one here complains about the food, shows that they were eating far too much before they came here and perhaps that points out to the success of the “cures”.
Actually this is a Body-Industrial complex with a combination of Commercialism, a touch of Medicinal flavour and extortion. Then again, there are enough gullible people in this county who believe that smelling aromatic salts can alleviate varicose veins!
What I was surprised about was the lack of spirituality that I suppose explains the record of being unable to keep the weight off. Occasionally one hears of someone who lost 20 kg, much in the commercial fashion the Subway Sandwich shops promote someone who lost 100 lbs. eating just their sandwiches.
Looking at the body types of the people attending these sessions here, I can see that, if there is any weight loss at all, it can be attributed to
1. Smaller than normal quantities of Food, and they could achieve more if they gave up the old notion of first course, main course, cheese, dessert routine, adored by the French.
2. The tranquil atmosphere dominated by the high mountains
The Lack of success can be said to be due to:
High Prevalence of Smoking
Lack of a Spiritual nature, which makes them complain. (I will try to use the Yogic philosophy to explain). They complain about Food, Waitresses, and Hotel and in fact, keep their bodies in their usually high levels of stress.
Most people were complaining, saying that the third week is very difficult, the food tastes blander than ever, and the hours are spent being bored.
Why do people flock to this place in such large numbers. 90-95 per cent of the tourists seen in this small town are overweight or obese, very un-French, I would say!
It is due to a strange twist to the Socialist Health Care in France! Most of the expenses, between 100 to 200 euros a DAY (130 to 260 dollars per day) are borne by the French Government! This is done at the suggestion of a Family Practitioner. It is a good system, in context, people who normally couldn't afford such an expensive holiday, get a 21 day “cure”, all paid for, and the power system in the health care is maintained and there are of course health benefits to being on holiday for 2-3 weeks!
Imagine doing this in a country, like USA, UK, Australia! The countries would be broke; the budget cannot sustain “cures” of the multitudes of overweight/obese people. So in English speaking countries, such a Weight Loss System as in Brides Les Baines is glorified by Saffron clad fake yogis, perfumes and flower petals under the guidance of exotic enough looking people (browner the better), so the rich can afford to go there… almost always with the same results as we can get in Brides Les Baines.
I can only shout, VIVE LA FRANCE
PS I have become painfully aware of the minds of the overweight/obese people: CONSTANT, PAINFUL, UNSUCCESSFUL, ETERNAL, FUTILE, AWARE, ASHAMED STRUGGLE to loose weight!
I try not to judge overweight/obese people especially my patients, who are almost always overweight or obese. But I cant help thinking when I see someone who is so hugely obese, I wonder, how did they get to be that size?
A PLACE LIKE THIS CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT THE ABSENCE OF SPIRITUALITY AND WHY WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMMES FAIL WITHOUT A SPIRITUAL COMPONENT.
My observations, using the Five Kleishas of the Yoga Sutra by Patanjali are as follows:
They are come here for a purpose, to loose weight.
They should facilitate that by reducing the Structural defects of their minds, called Kleisha in Yogic Philosophy
Ignorance: Four course Lunch and Dinners day after day with no corresponding Exercise will not make you loose weight. (Confusion, bewilderment, Delusion)
Attachment: Leave your gustatory and tonsillary expectations at home. Please be thankful to the chef for providing you with as fresh a food as possible. Stop complaining. (Desire, Passion)
Fear of Change: Do not want to try anything out of the ordinary and when something simple is offered as a diversion, such as a French version of Paella, please enjoy and be grateful.
Aversion: complaining that the food is bland. Very tasty food is what brought you here to loose that extra pounds accumulated over the years! (Anger, hatred)
Pride, Ego: comparing previous experiences to the current ones, chefs from different hotels, without realizing that chefs have limited freedom to alter menus. (Arrogance, deceit)
And by the way, be GRATEFUL that the French Government is paying for most of these indulgences!
I cherish the words of HE Dalai Lama, who was served two excellent dishes from the two top chefs in Australia and asked the question: Which dish is the best one?
He replied with a smile:
I am just a humble monk. I cannot judge. I enjoyed both the dishes.
Enjoy, add a little spirituality, do more exercises and you would see long lasting results and always vote for the Government who keeps on supporting such programmes!
vendredi 9 août 2013
INVEST IN FRIENDSHIPS, IT IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH
Looking at the habits of healthy and happy people, all over the world, there are some common threads running through their lives.
Move Naturally. No need to be training for Marathons, but at the same time, don't sit in front of TV, Computer or iphone more than 30 minutes at any one time. Walk around, do the chores at work, home or play.
When you wake up each morning, make up a grateful list and wonder loudly to yourself that you have been put here for a purpose. Be positive about the day ahead.
Find your way to deal with the Stress. Stress has become a “natural” or “cultural” phenomenon. Anthropologists would tell you (Jack Goody) that Natural and Cultural are not the same. Find your own way to deal with stress: take a nap, socialize, pray…
Like the Okinawan centenarians say: 80 per cent full, never stuff your stomach to its capacity. Eat to satisfy your appetite and hunger. Avoid situations where you are searching “value for money” and eating low quality food.
Eat Less Meat, not only you would help yourself, you would help the global warming from less carbon emissions.
I am not a great fan of organized religion and certainly do not subscribe to the belief that one religion is better than another. Also I don't believe that Religion is necessary to achieve spirituality, religion is but one of the many ways to reach the universal concept of spirituality. But Happy people tend to have some faith, whether on rocks or trees or other symbols. Being part of a faith based community gives identity to oneself and reinforces the positive purpose of life.
All of us know that the power of love can transcend any other powers in every day life: maintain good family standards, put family first, be kind and generous with your time with your partners and parents.
Stay Social. As I told my good friend Marcos yesterday: Schmoozing is good for your health. Man by nature is a social animal and loneliness is not natural. Make time for your friends, reach out for them and spend time with them, uninterrupted by telephone calls, text messages and emails.
I had one such day yesterday with my good friends M and G and their lovely daughter M. The 24 hours spent with them included long hours of discourse on various subjects, some of which we had in common, such as Medicine, Israel, Travel, Food.. Our one day included
Jewish Cuban nouvelle cuisine at Books and Books in Lincoln Road.
Thai Food and the fusion Japanese cuisine now springing up every where in the USA.. Massaman curry was tasty indeed.
An Italian restaurant run by a jewish family from Casablanca, where I indulged in smoken salmon and bagel along with portions of Spanish Omellette..
Only in Miami! The diversity of culture, but a heavy overlay of either Latin America or Jews.
Our day had begun slightly after noon one day when we went to the Public Radio Station to watch a live performance of Aaron Lebos Reality, a jazz oriented group of excellent local musicians. Reminded me of a younger and latin oriented version of Claude Challe.
This being Miami, we were able to include a trip to the bay, skirting the many islands in the bay and enjoy the soothing breeze and rejuvenated local flora. An occasional Iguana could be spotted, enjoying the afternoon sun.
We spent long time talking, and realized the importance of friendships and I am glad that I have always believed in: I am never too busy for my friends.
Looking forward to my next visit to the bayside home of MGM… with whom I had travelled to : Jamaica, Bahamas, Mexico, Panama, England, Wales…
CUBA IN MY HEART
INCREDIBLE ENCOUNTER AT TK ICP LOUNGE AT ISTANBUL AIRPORT
American Indians say, Things happen for Reason. There are no coincidences, it is just we cannot understand its significance.
My Meskwakia teacher advised me, another time, Stop looking for people, those who you need to meet would come your way.
And in Cuba, we say: Casualidad no es tan casual!
The Turkish Airlines International ICP lounge at IST airport sets the standard for International Airline Lounges. None in the USA or Canada can hold a candle to it, busy they are trying to wreak a few dollars out of you for a stale sandwich.
Welcome to Istanbul Lounge.
Fresh Food prepared by Chef(s) on duty
Mediterranean Salad medley, better than most restaurants in the West
A Tea Bar where you can taste Natural Teas. I tasted Linden, Sage, and many more were available.
Wines… We are not yet in an Islamist state here in Turkey, I noted. Compare to the paltry offerings, almost ascetic at the Egyptair Lounge in Cairo!
I must say two other lounges come to mind. Virgin Airways Lounge at London Heathrow, where once I had a quick haircut and had my shoes shined. Qatar Airways Lounge at Doha where there were five restaurants for your pleasure, and a fully stocked bar. A nice blend of Arab Islam and the Modern world and they can see eye to with the west and gain from the West.
Terminal 2E Air France Lounge at CDG, has good champagne and a variety of reading material, albeit all of them being in French.
Changi SQ lounges at Singapore, like the country they represent, lack imagination and vivaciousness.
MH lounge at KLIA, while I like it for personal reasons, is feeble and rather anaemic. TG lounges at BKK are good for foot massages but lack in fresh food choices and especially their choice of drinks.
I arrived at this lounge after an 11-hour flight from IAH. Immediately presented myself to the concierge who enquired whether I wanted just a shower or a rest in the suite. After the shower, I sat down to enjoy this “bakery in the sky”
Sage Tea. Some olives. Cappuccino. Baklava. Using the free Wi-Fi, sending photos to friends, especially who know this city and others who like to travel. Newspapers in English. I knew two hours in this lounge would be insufficient to enjoy all the delicacies, especially the food. I as planning to have the chef prepare, grilled chicken, Mediterranean salad, along with a Turkish Sauvignon Blanc.
I did not get a chance to do the above, but instead I had an incredible encounter with a Scottish Gent, based in Singapore and as it turned out, An Absolute Lover of Cuba!
I had gone over to the desk of the Concierge, to express my gratitude in writing at their guest book. After praising them, I signed off,
One World Sapphire
Star Alliance Gold
Sky team God,
La Habana, Cuba
I was aware of someone talking to the Concierge making a reservation for a shower and a suite for few hours. When I finished writing, I was face to face with him: North European look easily could be mistaken for a Scandinavian. Blonde Hair. Not Overweight, when he spoke I could detect a soft Scottish accent.
Absolutely the best lounge, he said.
Of course, I said and thus began our conversation about various Lounges around the world including the sterile one in Changi.
Without any prompt from me, he said, of all the places in the world, the best place I like is Havana, Cuba!
La Habana, Cuba? I asked him incredulously, staring at the incongruity of it all.
Yes, the people, the country, the ambiance, there is no country in the world like that! He extolled.
That was like giving me a gift of gold. My Little Island, full of gentle people who are my friends, the many people I know there.
Someone, a European, based in Singapore, well travelled is singing songs of praise of my little island.
Of course, I tell him of the moveable feast that is La Habana, and the epoca de Oro in Baracoa.
In between mentioning the names of Cuban poets, my mother (Ministry of Culture) and Carlos Amores (Cuban ambassador to Malaysia until recently), it must have come out that I was a Medical Doctor.
I have ben just diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes!
Another shock from him!
He looked very fit, and I cannot imagine him standing in line at any one of those McDo restos along with the overweight Chinese adolescents, in Singapore.
Our conversation turned to as to why he has Diabetes.
Genetic? He queried, somewhat affirmatively,
But no one in your family has type 2 diabetes? No, he agreed.
Then briefly I told him about the “old type 2 DM” where your old aunt came down with it in her twilight years, and the “ new type 2 DM” which is metabolic and diagnosed very early under a spectrum of reasons. The conversation turned to the excellent care the Cuban patients with Type 2 DM receive, a short history of DM in Cuba. During the Soviet era, the prevalence was low in Cuba, at the dissolution of the Soviet Aid and the Special period with its food restrictions, the rate of Diabetes soared, raising the Cuban Paradox. The Anxiety of the Social situation giving rise to Type 2 Diabetes.
He was intently listening.
I told him about Escuela de Medicine de Latin America ELAM where there are about 18500 poor students from all over the world studying Medicine. The backbone of Cuban character, the solidarity, the very essence of Fidelismo. You can find students from Tuvalu, Bhutan and Timor Leste studying Medicine in Cuba, I told him proudly.
And of the vitriolic journalists, like Andres Oppenheimer who in 1991 wrote a book called, The Last hours of Fidel Castro. It is Oppenheimer whose last hours are being cradled in the treacherous hands of right wing Cubans of Miami! He and other traitors to the Cuban Revolution, make a living out of the Hate spewing out of their mouths in the Anti Cuban Factory of words in Miami, including Carlos Alberto Montaner, who is a product of that hatred. People who do not visit Cuba or get their information second and third hand from people orchestrating an opinion, will not understand that Cuba’s standing among Latin American Nations is much better than the Extremists of Miami.
Why do they keep on comparing Cuba to Miami and themselves? He asked.
Because Cuba will not allow them to exploit, cheat and steal from public funds. 52% of all Medicare Frauds in USA involving Diabetes are committed in Miami! And the doctors and functionaries involved all have names such as Fernandez, Hernandez, and Izquierdo etc. Enough said.
The Cubans have contributed to Miami but also have contributed an enormous amount of ill will towards the local population (ask the Blacks or the whites who live in Miami). Look at the census, Cuban areas of Miami are the most segregated areas in the entire USA, and what does it say? Trying to recreate the racism, which existed before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution? They helped George W Bush, the least popular President in recent history get elected by fraudulent methods, was it in 2000? That is well established. Look at Marc Rubio; a right wing politician has already been caught telling lying about his Cuban Birth! (They lie about themselves but doubt the truth with anyone else, as is typical of the fascists. They would deny that Barack was born in the USA!)
Our conversation flowed on and on.
I gave him my visiting card. He shakes hands and introduces himself. He has been going to Cuba for seven years to set up Energy Company, renewable Energy sources. And is absolutely thrilled with it.
You and I both have stars on our chests that say Contrarians. If not for the contrarians, people would still be thinking that the world is flat and that the Sun rotates around the Earth.
It is only by going against the current; we can shine a little light on what appears only as a possibility.
Let us hope our paths cross again, in La Habana, Cuba. He hurried to the area of the Shower Stalls.
Good Bye, Sauvignon Blanc from Turkey, Grilled Chicken Fillet. If I don't hurry, the Turkish Airlines Flight to Brussels will take off without me. So, I rushed to gate 311, which was a good rush away, boarded the bus, already packed full, to the Airbus 320, ready to take us all to Bruxelles.
I said to myself
I am grateful to Cuba, which gives on giving me.
Surprises, pleasures, Knowledge and Happiness. Contributing very much to the person that I am.
Dr SYKS, a Jew, a Doctor without Borders, is Cuban at heart and misses his little island, mi isla Rica, each day he is away from Cuba.